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Don't Feel Sorry - Feel "Synergy"

November 26, 2003

If there's any thematic message in the album Synergy from Jim Hurst and Missy Raines it's to start feeling good about yourself. The first song on the album, I Ain't Got the Blues, pokes fun at the blues as Jim describes what it's like when things are going right. Missy echos in the very next song Cold Hard Business, that life's about getting better not about gaining wealth. We're delivered a wake-up call in Old Blind Dog, a song about a handicapped pet who's only focus is giving love to others. Even the song Buzzed delightfully reminds us that if you're in love you don't need coffee to get moving. Jim and Missy can play too. Missy has often been selected as the best bass player by the IBMA; Jim has won several awards too. If you're feeling sorry for yourself, latch on to this CD - and listen to 8 selections on Folk Alley.

Posted by Jim Blum at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

Very Special Christmas Goes Acoustic

November 25, 2003

The newest entry in the Very Special Christmas series of holiday CDs features an acoustic lineup. Featured artists on A Very Special Acoustic Christmas include Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Sam Bush, Patty Loveless, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Dan Tyminsky, and Rhonda Vincent. The original A Very Special Christmas album debuted in 1987, with sales benefiting the Special Olympics. The albums bring together popular recording artists performing traditional and original holiday songs.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

Dixie Chicks Release Live CD and DVD

November 24, 2003

Columbia Records and the Dixie Chicks have released Top of the World Tour Live four days early. The set, which includes a double CD and DVD recorded live during the Dixie Chicks 2003 tour, was originally scheduled for release on Nov. 25. During the tour, the Chicks performed 79 shows in North America, Europe, and Australia. Songs on the new CDs and DVD first appeared on 1998's Wide Open Spaces, 1999's Fly and 2002's Home. The live set may take the place of another tour in the near future as Chick Martie Maguire awaits the birth of twins this spring.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:34 PM | Comments (0)

John Gorka - Shy, But Bold.

November 22, 2003

Is that possible? How can someone be shy and uncomfortable in front of people, while being so secure and full of spirit as a writer? Don't ask John Gorka, he can't figure it out either. There is no question, however, that he has the ability to counsel. In the depths of despair he reminds us that there are worse things than being alone (Dogs & Thunder). He asks us to put ourselves second (Lay Me Down). Through his advice we realize that if we indeed wish to fight for righteousness, we must have a war-like attitude (Soldiers After All). He warns us to doubt even the best made plans and gives that message impact by using an oxymoron (Old Future). If you see John in person, he may not appear to be as confident and as well spoken as his songs. That's OK. He can't change himself, but he might change us.

Posted by Jim Blum at 11:44 AM | Comments (5)

Alison Krauss Backs Shania

November 21, 2003

Bluegrass favorites Alison Krauss and Union Station with Jerry Douglas will be the backup band for Shania Twain's second special broadcast on NBC. The hour-long show was filmed before an intimate live audience in Nashville and will be aired on Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. EST. In the special, Shania sings a variety of fan favorites and songs off of her most recent album, UP!

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:18 PM | Comments (0)

Bruce Cockburn: Vigilant, Outspoken, Dark.

If it wasn't for his brother, Bruce Cockburn wouldn't be the activist he is today. Years ago at his sibling's request, Cockburn went to El Salvador, witnessing the injustice there first hand. Starting out as a Buddy Holly clone, he's become one of the most literate poets in social music today. He's seen the stacks of skulls in Cambodia, hes' been mugged in Mozambique, and he's continually disappointed by the complacency of the West. Still, his songs are inviting, because he can instill an awakening in you. We share in his disgust during Postcards from Cambodia. We identify with his impatience in Wait No More. We consider delaying our own birth listening to Messenger Wind. Cockburn warned us that You've Never Seen Everything would be dark, but there is a glimmer of relief as he reminds us to take a moment to enjoy what goodness we have in Don't Forget About Delight. I admire him so deeply that I became speechless when I met him backstage during the Landmine tour. He doesn't know it, but since that meeting he's given me the courage to speak up when I see that something's wrong. You don't have to meet him to gain that edge, because his message is waiting in dozens of his songs.

Posted by Jim Blum at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)

Jackson Browne in Hall of Fame

November 20, 2003

Singer/songwriter Jackson Browne is one of seven iductees to be installed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in March. A short-term member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Browne was a success writing songs for other musicians before his breakthrough album, The Pretender. Browne had a series of hit singles in the late '70s and early '80s including Running on Empty, Somebody's Baby, and Lawyers in Love. The 19th annual ceremony will take place in New York City. Other inductees include the late George Harrison (who is already in the Hall for his work with the Beatles) and Traffic, featuring the talents of Steve Winwood and Chris Wood. Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:24 PM | Comments (0)

George's Guitar Up for Bid

November 19, 2003

An inexpensive guitar given to George Harrison on his 12th birthday is part of a large lot of Beatles memorabilia put on the block by London auction house Cooper Owen on Nov. 20. The wooden, steel-string guitar was the first such instrument Harrison owned and the one on which he learned to play. The guitar is expected to sell for around $450,000. Other items in the catalog include promotional items, photographs, clothing and original art. The auction will take place at the Hard Rock Cafe on London's Old Park Lane and entrance is by catalog only.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:06 PM | Comments (0)

Who is Caroline Herring?

Caroline Herring has left clues in her songs as to who she is. She is a person who can recall the past by looking at old farm field. Where she now spots rusty nails, she sees the hardworking sharecroppers and abundant harvests of the past. While she looks down on Las Vegas from an airplane, she finds it easy to criticize the rich...and then herself. Through her description of a woman's anger in the rural south not so long ago we know that she resists social conformity. She goes out on a Saturday night to dance, but hopes for more. You've probably never met Caroline, but after listening to her songs, you'll feel like you've know her for years, or you wish you had. Meet Caroline by listening to the songs on Folk Alley, which I've just described, from her debut called Wellspring.

Posted by Jim Blum at 10:19 AM | Comments (2)

Don Gibson Dies

November 18, 2003

Nashville songwriter Don Gibson died Mon., Nov. 17 of natural causes. He was 75. Gibson's work helped to establish the "Nashville Sound," marking a shift from the traditional instrumentation of bluegrass and country-western to the pressence of drums, electric guitars and pop-like vocals. He is best known as the author of Sweet Dreams, Oh Lonesome Me, and I Can't Stop Loving You. Gibson is in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 3:44 PM | Comments (0)

Riders in the Sky Honored by Western Music Association

November 17, 2003

Riders in the Sky were recognized as "Entertainer of the Year" and "Best Traditional Western Group" at the 15th Annual International Western Music Festival celebrating the best in Cowboy and Western music. Other winners honored in the ceremony in Wichita, KS include Walnut Valley Festival producer Don Redford, Hot Club of Cowtown for "Best Western Swing Group," Joni Harms for "Female Performer of the Year" and "Song of the Year," Curly Musgrave for "Songwriter of the Year" and "Male Performer of the Year," and Kip Calahan for "Best Newcomer." The awards were presented by theWestern Music Association, an organization founded in 1988 to support the music of the American Cowboy and the code of the West.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 2:30 PM | Comments (0)

Dixie Chicks Honored with Award from CMA

November 14, 2003

The CMA has recognized the Dixie Chicks with its International Artist Award. The prize lauds the Chicks for outstanding achievement for international touring over the past year and contributing to the awareness and development of country music outside North America. The Dixie Chicks toured extensively here and abroad in support of the Grammy Award-winning Home, a return to their bluegrass roots that featured a cross-over hit cover of Stevie Nicks's Landslide. The CMA presents a variety of awards each year in addition to the CMA Awards that display excellence in the country music industry.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 9:46 PM | Comments (0)

President Bush Recognizes Buddy Guy

November 13, 2003

Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy is one of ten recipients of the 2003 Medal of Arts. The medals will be presented by President George W. and First Lady Laura Bush in an Oval Office ceremony. Guy has won four Grammy Awards during his career, which stretches nearly half a century. Other Medal of Arts honorees include Leonard Slatkin, George Strait, and the PBS program, Austin City Limits.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 3:52 PM | Comments (1)

Kent's Folk Festival Makes it 37

November 12, 2003

To many the Kent State Folk Festival is like a reunion. Hundreds return to Kent, Ohio yearly to take in a concert, ask questions at a workshop, learn to clog dance, or visit in the halls. At an event like this suddenly you find yourself surrounded by others with your interests and even if they're not your friends, they very well might be at the end of the day. The same spirit is the motivating force behind folk festivals large and small throughout this country - and around the world. If you can make it to Kent, you can sit in on a workshop on "Song Delivery" led by Saturday night headliner Maura O'Connell and learn how jazz, classical, and original music can expand the horizon of the hammered dulcimer from the unsurpassed Tina Bergman. Or, if you're willing to take a chance, John Reynolds and Tim Wallace are reviving some turn of the century "passed over" selections in "Bawdy Songs." If that's not enough, a dozen clubs and coffeehouses around town will feature folk performances on Friday night. And check out festivals in your area. You might just learn something...and make some new "best friends."

Posted by Jim Blum at 6:02 PM | Comments (2)

The Music World Says "Goodbye" to Cash

Over 2000 fans filled the pews as Nashville's Ryman Auditorium played host for a tribute to the late Johnny Cash on Nov. 10. Actor Tim Robbins MC'd the program. Performers paying their respects in song included Brooks & Dunn, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Travis Tritt, George Jones, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Hank Williams, Jr., the Fisk Jubilee Singers, John Mellencamp, Rodney Crowell, Marty Stuart, Kid Rock, Randy Scruggs, Jack Clement, Johnny Western, Jimmy Tittle, Larry Gatlin, Cash's daughter Rosanne, daughter-in-law Laura and step-daughter Carlene Carter.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 3:20 PM | Comments (0)

Riders in the Sky Ride Again

November 10, 2003

Everyone's favorite cowboy singers are back with a two-CD celebrating their 25th anniversary. Silver Jubilee, the new album from Riders in the Sky, brings together 25 favorite tunes and a bonus live mini-concert. The band has been featured on the radio, on stage, on TV, and on the soundtrack for Pixar and Disney's Toy Story 2 with their version of Woody's Roundup. Riders in the Sky is also responsible for Riders' Radio Theater, a radio program broadcast since 1989.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 5:38 PM | Comments (0)

Nickel Creek Sells Out

The 37th Annual Kent State Folk Festival will start off on Nov. 12 with the energy of a sold-out show at the Kent Stage with the alt-bluegrass trio Nickel Creek. The Grammy Award-winning group features Chris Thiele on mandolin and the brother/sister duo of Sean and Sara Watkins on guitar and violin respectively. Tickets are still available for other Folk Fest shows: Ralph Stanley at the Kent Stage on Nov. 14 and Maura O'Connell and Robinella and the ccStringband on Nov. 15 at the Kent State University Auditorium. The KSFF also offers free concerts thoughout Kent on Friday night and free workshops the next day. The Kent State Folk Festival is the second oldest folk festival continuously produced on a college campus.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:13 PM | Comments (0)

Rodney Crowell: Compassion is #1.

November 7, 2003

Rodney Crowell told the audience at Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom that 2 of his songs from The Houston Kid are connected. The songs are from the vantage point of two brothers, twins, one of whom has AIDS. I Wish It Would Rain is a first person narrative from the brother who is stricken; In Wandering Boy we hear the feelings of the other child. I thanked Rodney after the show for sharing the story and I told him that Folk Alley has been playing both songs. I also told him that it's one thing to have folks whistling his songs on the way home, and quite another when they talk about them over coffee in the morning. He seemed very pleased to hear these comments and admitted that education and concern for others was high on his list. He told me that he loves NPR, for example, and that his tour bus is full of books. "We're all avid readers," he told me. He may be a reader, but he's a "doer" as well. Last year Rodney took his daughter to the streets to deliver food and clothing to the homeless.

Posted by Jim Blum at 2:34 PM | Comments (1)

Mark O'Connor Marks 30 Years

November 6, 2003

Fiddler/violinist Mark O'Connor celebrates 30 years working as a professional musician with the release of a new, two-disc set on Nov. 11. The recording, Mark O'Connor Thirty-Year Retrospective, was recorded during a live concert and features an all-star line-up of guests that included mandolinist Chris Thiele from Nickel Creek, guitarist Bryan Sutton, and Byron House on the standing bass. O'Connor began playing as a pre-teen on the fiddle circuit. He has gone on to have a successful career recording both classical and traditional music, including several Appalacia-themed works with Edgar Meyer and Yo Yo Ma.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:36 PM | Comments (0)

The CMA Awards Take Over Nashville

November 5, 2003

The 47th Annual CMA Awards bring together country music's elite with the annual "star-studded" event, broadcast tonight (11/5) beginning at 8 p.m. EST on CBS. Highlights include a tribute to the late legend Johnny Cash (nominated in 4 categories), a performance by Alison Krauss & Union Station (with nominations for Alison Krauss as female vocalist and dobro player extraordinaire Jerry Douglas for instrumentalist), and a duet between Dolly Parton and Norah Jones of Parton's The Grass is Blue, which Jones covers on a recent tribute album. Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson will be joined by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Sheryl Crow in honoring Cash.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 3:13 PM | Comments (0)

ASCAP Honors Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

November 4, 2003

The late Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were honored posthumously with ASCAP Foundation Lifetime Achievement Awards during the organization's 41st Annual Country Music Awards on Nov. 3 in Nashville. Both members of this respected and beloved couple were noted songwriters. June, who co-penned Johnny's signature hit Ring of Fire, was born country music royalty as the daughter of Mother Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family. The award was accepted by the couple's son, John Carter Cash, and Johnny's granddaughter Chelsea Crowell, the daughter of Roseanne Cash and Rodney Crowell. June Carter Cash died on May 15 with Johnny following four months later on Sept. 12.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:03 PM | Comments (0)

John Prine Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame

November 3, 2003

John Prine was one of four songwriters inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame on Nov. 2. Kris Kristofferson, who is himself a member of the NSHOF, presented the award. Kristofferson said, "If God's got a favorite songwriter, I think it's John Prine." Other 2003 honorees included Rodney Crowell, Paul Overstreet, and the late Hal Blair. The ceremony was presented by the Nashville Songwriters Foundation.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 4:22 PM | Comments (1)

Natalie MacMaster - From Cape Breton to Nashville.

Natalie MacMaster grew up playing the fiddle and dancing. Almost every child in Cape Breton did, and still does for that matter. Natalie caught the world's attention because she's stayed ahead of tradition. Blueprint pairs revivals of forgotten gems with several newer tunes, each piece sounding unlike the one before it, thanks to the thoughtful insight of producer Darol Anger. The CD pairs her with the Nashville Mafia: Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush, Alison Brown, and Victor Wooten to mention a few. You'll be hearing 11 of the 13 selections on Folk Alley, an almost unheard of percentage. And just watch - the biggest argument I'll hear will be from those wondering why I'm not playing the other 2. Take Blueprint on your next road trip. You'll get there faster.

Posted by Jim Blum at 1:16 PM | Comments (6)

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